There is a certain beauty in nature’s untouched landscapes. Having traveled across the United States, visiting 47 out of the 50 states to date, I have been incredibly grateful for what I have seen. I felt I was on a different planet while trekking through Badlands National Park and when I was at Yellowstone National Park, I finally understood the line “purple mountain majesties” when I saw them with my own eyes. Without special effects or being touched by man, earth can provide us an unbelievable movie set. Sitting in the movie theater with my 3D glasses on, I felt I was watching a PBS special. Scene after scene after scene of fantastical landscapes filled with soaring mountains and unfurling waterfalls, I did not know where to look first. If this was only a travelogue then this would be wonderful in its own right. But this was a movie, so I wanted a story to connect the beautiful and exciting images before my eyes. It felt to me as if the special effects were thought of first and then the writers put a story to them. Starting a new trilogy, I understood there would have to be a groundwork of explanations laid down to get the movie audience on the same page; however, it made for a slow pace in the beginning. Martin Freeman (Love Actually, Hot Fuzz) played Bilbo Baggins, a hesitant Hobbit who went along with a band of Dwarves to reclaim their mountain home from the dragon Smaug. Richard Armitage (Frozen, Robin Hood) was the Dwarf King Thorin who with the wizard Gandalf, played by Ian McKellen (X-Men franchise, Stardust) lead their group through perilous lands filled with goblins, giant spiders and other deadly creatures. Where the beginning of this movie was disappointing, the last half of this 2 hour and 49 minute film came together for me. Director Peter Jackson and his special effects team did an amazing job, bringing a new and improved Gollum, played by Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Prestige) to the screen. The facial expressions on Gollum and the other fanciful beings were truly realistic. With the excitement ratcheted up, the steadier pacing and deeper chemistry between characters; I thoroughly enjoyed the movie by its conclusion. If only more attention had been given to the story as the special effects this would have been a masterpiece. As I was leaving the theater, if they had been selling postcards of the movie’s landscapes, I would have bought several to mail out to my friends.
2 2/3 stars
I have mentioned in previous reviews, that I spent a good portion of my life trying to fit in. My goal was not to stand out and once I had my weight loss, I felt my chances became better at being just average. You can see I was not known as an overachiever. At least in my world I had the option to change myself, but what if a person had no opportunity to blend in with the majority. That is exactly why Finbar McBride, played by Peter Dinklage (Death at a Funeral, Game of Thrones-TV), decided to leave the life he knew behind after his only friend had died. Having been stared and talked about due to his dwarfism, Finbar moved into an abandoned train station on a plot of land that his friend had left him, to begin a reclusive life. But that did not turn out to be the case when he encountered Olivia Harris, played by Patricia Clarkson (Easy A, Larts and the Real Girl) and Joe Aramas, played by Bobby Cannavale (Win Win, The Other Guys). This charming movie was a joy to watch as Peter, Patricia and Bobby were wonderful in their roles. What I appreciated most about this story was the affirmation it gave me, regarding my belief that people should not be judged by how they look. This indie flavored movie came with a big heart.
3 stars — DVD